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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.


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Old 01-20-2020, 11:34 AM   #1
93_confirmed
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Unhappy I desperately need offset fire management help. Very frustrated.

Long story short, I've been cooking and bbq'ing for about a decade. I've cooked on the kettle, wsm, OKJ highland/Bandera, electric, rotisserie, etc. Done it all. For the most part, never had issues with getting to/maintaining temp.

Just these past few weeks, my OKJ is STRUGGLING badly to get up to temp and I haven't made any major changes to my setup. I've had it for a few years by the way. I run well seasoned cherry for the majority of the cook, I haven't modded, I have tried Franklin's firebox setup, small fires, big fires, using charcoal to boost the fire, and have also used various combinations of grate/charcoal bin configurations. I can barely crack 200F at best. At worst, I'm 175F.

I have researched old threads here, watched dozens of videos, read articles, and prayed to the BBQ Gods and still I can't get this ******* smoker to operate properly. There are no major leaks, weather is OK other than some wind and the position on my patio hasn't changed.


Can I get some guidance on what could possibly be going on here? For those with the OKJ Highland, can you give me a detailed step by step on how you are getting it to 275+?

Last edited by 93_confirmed; 01-20-2020 at 11:47 AM..
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Old 01-20-2020, 11:52 AM   #2
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I run 5 inch pieces on a smaller diameter
I place the fire at the fire box door
I make sure my exhaust stack is wide open(make sure your stack is clear)
lay in new wood with plenty of air flow around it....
Thin Blue Smoke... no white stuff!

I can get to 500F if I want
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Old 01-20-2020, 12:50 PM   #3
creek bottom
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Just curious, are you going by the thermometer on lid? Have you checked with a different thermometer at grate level inside the cooker?
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Old 01-20-2020, 01:15 PM   #4
morningwoodbbq
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creek bottom View Post
Just curious, are you going by the thermometer on lid? Have you checked with a different thermometer at grate level inside the cooker?
Yeah, don't go by the lid thermometer. I use a probe jammed in a ball of foil on the cooking grates to give me the temp.

Any issues I've had it has been with rubbish pieces of wood. I lay them on top of the firebox to get them nice and warm (or hot) to help combustion when they eventually go in. Some just do not want to light so I have to pull them out and put a different log in.

This is on an Oklahoma Joe Highland Reverse Flow.
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Old 01-20-2020, 01:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
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Just curious, are you going by the thermometer on lid? Have you checked with a different thermometer at grate level inside the cooker?

No, I learned that very early on. I have a grommet on the side and am running the Thermoworks Smoke with a probe at the center rack. I just tested the probes yesterday and they are on point.
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Old 01-20-2020, 01:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morningwoodbbq View Post
Yeah, don't go by the lid thermometer. I use a probe jammed in a ball of foil on the cooking grates to give me the temp.

Any issues I've had it has been with rubbish pieces of wood. I lay them on top of the firebox to get them nice and warm (or hot) to help combustion when they eventually go in. Some just do not want to light so I have to pull them out and put a different log in.

This is on an Oklahoma Joe Highland Reverse Flow.

The wood is good and I not only preheat, but I also make sure the splits are small to avoid a long smolder.
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Old 01-20-2020, 01:24 PM   #7
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What have the ambient temps been? Cherry is great for smoking, but it doesn’t burn with the same btu value as the denser hardwoods. You might try mixing a hotter burning wood in with the cherry and see if that helps. Ash would be a good choice, burns hot and fast, very light smoke that will not overpower the cherry. If you can’t find ash, try some white oak or even Osage orange (hedge).
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Old 01-20-2020, 01:31 PM   #8
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Have you checked the exhaust? It can get built up with creosote and grease. Needs to be brushed or burned out occasionally.

Edit

Also check under the reverse flow plate. Can get full of ash.
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Old 01-20-2020, 01:31 PM   #9
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Old 01-20-2020, 01:52 PM   #10
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I checked the exhaust, checked for birds nests, etc and all good. Also, I've been using this cherry with great results and the guy I split the cherry order with cooks on the same Joe with no problems.
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Old 01-20-2020, 02:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 93_confirmed View Post
I checked the exhaust, checked for birds nests, etc and all good. Also, I've been using this cherry with great results and the guy I split the cherry order with cooks on the same Joe with no problems.
Sneak over his house at night under the cover of darkness and swap cookers.
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Old 01-20-2020, 02:28 PM   #12
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and I agree with others on grill grate therms....

hottest part of the cook chamber is the top half
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Old 01-20-2020, 02:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 93_confirmed
Just these past few weeks, my OKJ is STRUGGLING badly to get up to temp and I haven't made any major changes to my setup. I've had it for a few years by the way. I run well seasoned cherry for the majority of the cook, I haven't modded, I have tried Franklin's firebox setup, small fires, big fires, using charcoal to boost the fire, and have also used various combinations of grate/charcoal bin configurations. I can barely crack 200F at best. At worst, I'm 175F.
If I am understanding correctly:
  • You have verified your thermometer is correct.
  • You have been able to achieve higher temps in the past.
  • You have confirmed that your intakes and exhaust are clear.
  • You haven't made any other changes.
Correct?

Then I am going to assume that something is wrong with your wood. I'd try a burn with just lump charcoal. The only other thing I can think of is if your pit is positioned in a way that there is a breeze dampening your airflow.

During one cook on my Klose, I couldn't keep temps below 325°. After a while I realized that there was a slight breeze coming up the driveway that was hitting my intakes and stoking the fire. I turned the pit 90° and was abler to control the pit as usual.
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Old 01-20-2020, 02:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 93_confirmed View Post
I checked the exhaust, checked for birds nests, etc and all good. Also, I've been using this cherry with great results and the guy I split the cherry order with cooks on the same Joe with no problems.
I know I'm not helping you here, but where do you get the cherry from in NJ? We burn exclusively Cherry as well.
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Old 01-20-2020, 02:50 PM   #15
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Man, I'm a pellet guy but this has me seating on the edge of my seat to find out what gives.
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